IOM Ramps Up Response to Covid-19 Pandemic for Refugees in Indonesia

Jakarta – As governments around the world scramble to procure scarce ventilators critical in the treatment of severe COVID-19 cases, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is joining efforts to meet the request of the Government of Indonesia for ventilators and other essential medical supplies.  

The ventilators will be part of at least 30 procured jointly with the UNDP and WHO and will be handed over to the National Task Force in Jakarta. 

This comes as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indonesia, a country of more than 260 million people, is been reported to have reached 5,516 with 496 deaths (17 April) according to the National Task Force.   

As Indonesia continues its efforts to tackle COVID-19, IOM has initiated risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) activities with the refugee and asylum seeker population in the country, focused on hygiene promotion, preventative actions, and community awareness on the virus.  This has included meetings with and counselling migrants, posting information in community housing and frequently visited areas, and regular messaging via social media in migrants’ native languages, English, and Bahasa Indonesia. 

“Together with local health authorities, IOM has completed COVID-19 prevention socialization sessions in nine cities and 80 accommodations for over 7,800 refugees under our care,” said Louis Hoffmann, IOM Chief of Mission in Indonesia.  

IOM has held ongoing consultations and meetings with the national Refugee Task Force and local health departments in recent months to ensure continued access to health services for refugees, including for COVID-19 care and treatment, he added.  

“Guidelines from the Ministry of Health indicated that COVID-19 services would be accessible and available to all foreign nationals, which reflects a comprehensive commitment to addressing the pandemic throughout Indonesia,” Hoffmann said. 

IOM has repeatedly called on governments to ensure that health and other social services are made available to all migrants regardless of their status. 

To assist the effort to mitigate against transmission within the refugee community, IOM has surveyed potential quarantine and isolation spaces for the refugee population both within existing accommodations and elsewhere, if needed.   

Additional spaces for quarantine and isolation may be required to reduce transmission within community accommodations where refugee families share common spaces for cooking, and recreation, and where physical distancing, especially for those experiencing symptoms, can be challenging. 

“At a local level, we’ve been able to build hand-washing stations in the migrants’ accommodations as well as in public settings near migrants’ accommodations in Makassar, Medan, Kupang, Semarang.  There will be additional stations coming online where we support refugees in Surabaya, Tangerang, and Medan,” Hoffmann said. 

The stations are equipped with information on proper hand-washing practices. 

Even with this particular focus on responding to COVID-19, IOM Indonesia continues to provide regular clinical counselling for migrants in need of psychological services, especially those suffering from psychological disorders and those feeling overwhelmed or distressed due to measures introduced to tackle the pandemic. 

Similarly, IOM is working in conjunction with local authorities to provide education support through online learning platforms to migrant children and adults under its care. Through this approach, it is expected that children will manage to complete their school assignments and the adults can continue with their language classes during the outbreak.  

The procurement of the ventilators and these activities were supported with funding from the Government of Australia.   

As part of IOM’s revised global COVID-19 Response Plan, the IOM Mission in Indonesia requires USD 10 million to support the Government’s efforts to address the health and socio-economic consequences of the pandemic.  

For further information, please contact Patrik Shirak at IOM Indonesia, Tel: +622157951275, Email: